Date: 10th January 2011 at 8:01pm
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2010 wasn’t the best year for Jonny Evans.

Having burst on to the United scene as a highly touted youngster, he quickly set about proving why people rated him so highly. I remember being particularly impressed with how he handled playing against Didier Drogba twice in the 08/09 season as the powerful striker had dominated more experienced players.

He began to look like a viable replacement at centre half when the likes of Vida and Rio eventually called time on their playing days as he was a key defender in the sides that went for that long spell without conceding in 08/09.

But as 2010 began, the composed and reliable Northern Ireland defender began to look shaky. Little mistakes crept into his game and he began to struggle where he was so assured previously.

It lead to a very public undressing by Sir Alex Ferguson in the San Siro as we took on AC Milan in the Champions League. The game immediately following he was given a hard time at Goodison Park being turned for Everton’s third by Jack Rodwell.

There were a number of weak performances that followed with horror shows this season against West Ham, Bolton etc People began to claim he didn’t like having it up him by physical strikers with the likes of Carlton Cole and Kevin Davies roughing him up but we had seen him do well against these kinds of players previously. So what had gone wrong?

Some claimed he had began to rest on his laurels, getting to comfortable with his place at the club and the emergence of Chris Smalling, who in comparison was looking good, was highlighting this. Perhaps so, but the one explanation that got my proverbial goat was that he simply wasn’t good enough and never had been. He was labelled a hype job and it was claimed that the club and it’s supporters had spoken up what was essentially a mediocre player and all his previous achievements were forgotten or discredited.

I’ll be the first to say his form worried me, I have written about it enough times but this was a huge shock to see people writing off a 22 year old before his career had even really began.

The performance against West Ham was especially bad and he was pulled out of the firing line for a spell in order to get his head right. In that period Chris Smalling stepped in at various points so when the team was named for yesterday’s Liverpool game it came as quite a shock to see his name on the team sheet.

I personally witnessed fans concede defeat before the game had kicked off because he was partnering Rio at the back and whilst the general consensus wasn’t that bad there was a lot of gloom about him starting but when the game actually kicked off, opinion changed.

Evans looked assured, composed and took everything as it came. He didn’t rush or allow himself to get flustered, made forays forward and was unlucky not to have scored after hitting the post from a corner so at the end of the game, for a player that had been condemned to the trash pile a few weeks earlier, he looked pretty good. Liverpool didn’t exactly offer much in terms of attacking play but that was partly because of his anticipation of threats before they developed.

He himself said in regards to the performance:

“I have always had confidence in my own ability and great support from my family and the manager and I just had to step back and think about the things I needed to do to get back to doing the basic stuff and defending and keeping clean sheets.”

Of course there was no strong forward to test Evans yesterday so that will be the thing to keep an eye for in his upcoming appearances but for now we can take delight in the fact that he is playing with confidence and with his head up. I would like to think he has turned a corner and that he has got through that blip but I won’t jump the gun, I’ll just say that yesterday was a good performance from a good player.

Those that said he was no good may be forced to eat their words soon as a ‘poor’ player doesn’t play as well as he did yesterday or as he has in the past.

I just hope he continues this good form as I look forward to reminding those who wrote him off a little while ago of their words.


15 responses to “Jonny Evans proves the cream always rises”

  1. Simon says:

    Perhaps we have found Jonny’s niche?

    Playing against 10 men suits his style, then he gets to mark the free man, of which I am sure he is more than capable.

    He needs a lot of time, he cannot win a single ball in the air for a big lad and his reading of the game leaves a lot to be desired.

    Hey, but he did hit the post.

    Against 10 men.

    I want defenders to be able to defend. At the moment, Jonny cannot.

    To me this looked like a shop window game…with Kuszeck, Evans and Owen all given time.

    I hope he improves as he looks like a great footballer, just doesn’t yet play like one.

    • clint says:

      It was pleasing to see a good display from Evans and something that he can build on, hes still only 23. He seems to have worked on his distribution over the last 3-4 weeks.

      Like Simon said, I believe his main weakness is when dealing with physical center forwards who are good in the air and target him or try to get a run on him.

      I think the core attributes are there and he can improve and become a regular.

      It was another brave move from Fergie, to take Vida out (and remove any Psychological advantage that Torres may have had over him) and to have faith in Evans for a big game after some terrible performances.

      Those are the calls that will be missed when he goes.

      • RedScot says:

        It was another brave move from Fergie, to take Vida out (and remove any Psychological advantage that Torres may have had over him) and to have faith in Evans for a big game after some terrible performances.
        What A great point Clint.Well said.

  2. RedScot says:

    The Key within this article for me is Jonny Evans age he is 23 and just a youngster learning his trade.
    Yes he had a “mare” at Wet Spam and Obinna and Spector had a one off game were everything they touched was Gold.
    He regrouped as you would expect and rethink about his game and probably take advice from the senior Pros at United like Rio and Nemanja.
    I would think if you consider how people react under adverse circumstance you look at your peers and your team mates.Chris Smalling must have been an inspiration to Jonny watching how he has grasped the nettle with both hands and been sensational.”If he can do it, so can I”.
    He clearly was not put under a severe test bye a wayward and “Shot” Fernando Torres yesterday but what he had to do (not give him a clear chance) he did.
    It would have been great to see him get his first goal for United but it was not to be,but the header was a stunner!Once he gets of the mark that will give him added confidence also and be rewarded bye the fans with applause which will only motivate him more in his United carrer.
    My overall feeling is if Sir Alex thought Jonny Evans was a better longterm prospect than Gerard Pique than that is good enough for me unless you want to quiz the manager and his staff on their knowledge of the players.

  3. Chudi says:

    He wasn’t as tested as he could have been but he did well when he was called upon lost a few aerial battles (I know a few people thought ‘here we go’ when he lost out to Torres early in an aerial challenge) but over all did very well.

    I think alot of it has to do with having Rio beside him though.

    And Simon you continually refer to the fact they had 10 men he still did well, be it Babel, Torres, Ngog, Kuyt or when he was on Gerrard. You need to give him a tad more credit especially jumping into such a game having not played since the end of November!

  4. kieran says:

    granted evans played well on sunday but he wasn’t given a huge amount to deal with. Lets hope he can follow the lead of Nani and (hopefully!!!) Anderson and get his career back on track by playing well on a consistent basis

  5. Yashi says:

    Does he have to play against Barcelona to be considered a good defender? Is that how all defenders are tested? I remember a young Rio (still older than Jonny though) struggling at the Bernabeu as Real thrashed us.

    A lot of Utd fans need to understand the difference between form and ability. If you think Jonny “cannot defend”, you should send your application in to succeed Fergie, because it seems like you know more than he does! Jonny was badly out of form, one game against Liverpool doesn’t mean he is back to his best, but it does mean he is learning. The fact that Smalling, new to the club, overtook him as 3rd choice centre-back must have made him realise that he needs to start turning up in matches again. Fergie obviously trusts him, that’s why he threw him at the deep end against Liverpool, against whom he played his strongest side available!

    I thought we had all learnt a lesson from our very premature bollocking of Fletcher… Give the guy a chance to get himself back in the game.

  6. rob b says:

    I hate crap statements like “well he didn’t have a lot to do against Liverpool” …utter dross!

    Jonny Evans is probably the best 23 year old centreback in the Prem. Yes he’s suffered from poor form, but every player goes through that. The criticisms come from the same fans kicking young Rafael last season. It does wind me up.

    I for one am happy he’s part of our squad. If he was elsewhere wed surely be linked with buying such a talented footballer

    • jonathan says:

      Good point about how he’d be seen if playing for another team. Overall, it is generally positive that United are seen in such high standard; however it sometimes means players are undervalued.

      Paul Scholes is finally being seen as world class at this stage in his career (by the general public) wheras he was probably only seen as “solid” for much of his career.

      Nani’s still primarily described as “much improved” whereas the media moved quickly past that stage with Gareth Bale to become the toast of Europe.

      The list goes on, but I trust our players know that they’re valued by the fans. I trust Evans will be apart of our future success whether or not he will be recognized by outsiders.

      • Rohit says:

        Rafael is another one who never gets noticed..Listen to any commentary or read any of the abu blogs and its usually the ‘problematic right back spot’ of united..Don’t these idiots watch games, hasn’t it been obvious that rafael has been awesome for the past 6 months..No, its nasri this and bale that..The nani is inconsistent bit really gets me going..No one admits of his brilliance, ‘oh he can produce the odd bit, but the big picture is that he’s inconsistent’ and yet he has the most assists in the league and regularly makes decent fullbacks look completely useless..On another note, its better they have a low profile..Don’t want no circus trying to woo them away..

        • jonathan says:

          Yeah, Rafael is certainly on that list. If he were playing anywhere else, especially in a lower tier like France, the media would be going absolutely nuts and putting out daily transfer rumours. I also think the media is hung up on his red card against Munich as if all performances before or after are irrelvant.

          Really, the list goes on for most of our players. Rooney wasn’t even nominated for the Ballon D’or (based on the 09-10 season), so what does that tell you?

          Like you said, if it keeps the circus at bay, it’s probably not such a bad thing. Critics can keep scratching their heads wondering how an “average” team keeps winning.

  7. in1voice says:

    Give him a chance. All great defenders went thru that.. Evra, Rafael, Vidic, etc. I think unlike strikers, defenders take longer to develop. We should put our trust in SAF, who sees these guys in training on a daily basis. If anyone is not MU standard, he would be gone in no time.

  8. R.E.D says:

    I agree with what was said above, form and ability are completely diff, had a shaky spell but is looking to have turned a corner

  9. R.E.D says:

    And to the guy who left the first comment, when he doesnt play well we and the press are all over him so what’s wrong with being just as quick to give him praise?
    Get behind your team pal!